What is the difference between ryokan and minshuku? 旅館と民宿の違いとは?

  • Published on : 24/04/2017
  • by : I.D.O.
  • Rating :

Traditional inn or guest room

Japan offers several forms of traditional accommodation. Among these, ryokan and minshuku are popular with travelers looking for authenticity. Here are their features and differences.

Often located in the heart of nature and near hot springs , the buildings are made of traditional materials: wood and bamboo. The rooms have tatami floors and rice paper partitions.

Arriving at a ryokan is an experience in itself. The hostess, okami , dressed in a kimono, comes to welcome the guests. Once you take your shoes off , put on the slippers made available at the entrance. An employee, still in a kimono, then comes to take over from the okami and accompany the customers to their room.

Inside a ryokan in Japan.

Inside a ryokan in Japan.


The ryokan always have common baths (most often supplied with spring water). The most luxurious offer rooms with private bathrooms and even private rotenburo (outside baths). A yukata is made available to customers and can be used as pajamas.

Usually, arrival at a ryokan is not before 4:00 p.m. or after 7:00 p.m. (due to dinner time) and departure no later than 10 a.m. The ryokan are closed at night.

Rates start at around 10,000 yen (€ 85) per night per person with half board.

ryokan onsen

Most often, ryokans have a rôtenburo, an outdoor onsen


Meals (dinner and breakfast) are generally taken with other travelers and sometimes one or more family members, at a fixed time. They serve delicious and hearty family cuisine made with local products.

A room in a minshuku costs around 6,000 to 9,000 yen (between 50 and 75 €), with half board.


Oyado-iseya minshuku, Narai

Oyado-iseya minshuku, Narai

macknz.smith, Flickr

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